Merry Christmas!!

Well, the festive season is well and truly under way here in Cambridge.  The streets are bustling and the city looks so pretty, especially after dark with all the Christmas lights twinkling away.

Holly wreath
Holly wreath at Cambridge Market

It’s always such a busy time of year but if you’d like to take a break from the hubbub to sing some carols, there are plenty of services around the city.  This Saturday 16 December, there will be Carols by Candlelight at Michaelhouse at 3pm and 4pm and there’s another candlelit Carol Service at Great St Mary’s, the University church, on Sunday 17 December at 6.30pm.

And there will, of course, be the world famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm on Christmas Eve.  It’s always been something of a badge of honour to queue from pre-dawn to get in to this Service but King’s has changed the arrangements this year and will operate a ticketing system, with about 500 tickets available to members of the public.  Details are on their website http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk  Here’s a clip of the King’s College Choir singing “Once in Royal David’s City”, the carol that always opens the service and which never fails to bring a tear to my eye as I listen to that solo chorister singing like an angel!

So it’s about time that I too got on with some yuletide prep but before I do, I just wanted to thank everybody who has read, liked, followed, shared or commented on my blog and I’m also grateful to my family and friends for their encouragement and support.  Since I started writing in September, I’ve met so many interesting people who are doing amazing things here in Cambridge and I feel more connected to the city than ever.  I’ve already got plenty of posts in the pipeline for 2018 and I’m excited to see what the New Year will bring.

So here’s wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.  See you in January!!

Pom pom wreath
Fabulous pom-pom wreath in the window at Sew Creative, King Street

 

 

A Christmas Film Festival with Enchanted Cinema

What could be nicer at this time of year than snuggling up in front of a Christmas movie??  Well, you can do just that at Enchanted Cinema’s Christmas Film Festival which is happening at The Robinson Theatre at Hills Road Sixth Form College this Saturday, 16 December.

Online EC Christmas Poster_A3_flat
Image credit: Enchanted Cinema

The day starts at 10am with Disney’s “Frozen”, after which a real Elsa will be visiting to sing and chat with her young fans.  At 1pm, there’s an autism friendly screening of “The Polar Express”, so it’ll offer a relaxed environment with light levels slightly higher than normal and sound levels slightly lower.  Then you can sit back and enjoy the antics of everybody’s favourite hapless singleton in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” at 4pm.  And finally, at 7pm you can laugh and cry at Richard Curtis’s Christmas classic, “Love Actually”.  That lobster costume gets me every time!!

Enchanted Cinema Logo
Image credit: Enchanted Cinema

Cambridge residents may be familiar with Enchanted Cinema’s summer outdoor screenings, complete with deckchairs, headphones and street food, at locations in and around the city.  Ellen Downes and Will Morrish set up the business in 2015, initially for small social events.  Now they bring an enhanced cinema experience to weddings, parties and corporate events with live music, food, decor and lighting alongside the film screening.

For this event, The Robinson Theatre will be transformed into a cosy, festive space and, as well as live music between films, there’ll be a pop up café running all day next to the theatre, serving hot drinks, mulled wine, cakes and brownies, much of which has been given by local businesses.  The mince pies are being donated by Radmore Farm Shop, which I wrote about here on the blog in November.

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Image credit: EACH

This Festival is a fundraiser for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices which provide care and support for children and young people with life-threatening illnesses as well as end of life care for dying children and their families.  All profits from this event will go to the hospice in Milton where, very sadly, Ellen’s sister passed away in May this year.  Ellen and her family are so thankful for all the support and care they received from the EACH team over the years and they are raising funds to help ensure that the wonderful work of the hospice continues with other children and families.

Tickets for the Festival are bookable through Enchanted Cinema’s website where you can also buy tickets for their prize draw, which offers loads of awesome prizes.  So go on, take a break from the yuletide prep, head for Hills Road, grab a mince pie and settle back to enjoy some Christmas magic from Enchanted Cinema.

www.enchantedcinema.co.uk

Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge CB2 8PE

 

Stem + Glory

Louise Palmer-Masterton is a powerhouse!  She has founded and is running two highly successful businesses in the city and she’s fizzing with energy and ideas.  I met Louise in Stem + Glory, her new vegan cafe in King Street.

Stem and Glory logo pic
Image credit: Stem + Glory

Louise tells me that she enjoys food and cooking and has herself been vegan for many years.  Camyoga, the yoga business that she started in 2003, took off straight away and over fourteen years has grown into a multi studio enterprise offering not only yoga classes but workshops and teacher training courses too.  Having opened a small cafe, really just for the yoga clients, Louise began to develop ideas for a larger vegan cafe and when a site became available at Mitchams Corner in 2016, she successfully crowdfunded the project to open a cafe and yoga studio there.  The cafe was open to the public from the start, offering fast, fresh and healthy plant-based food to eat in or take out through the day and vegan fine dining in the evenings.

When the opportunity came to open a city centre vegan cafe at the old Afternoon Tease premises in King Street earlier this year, Louise didn’t waste any time.  She again crowdfunded successfully to refurbish and refit both sites.  Mitchams Corner is now a table service restaurant at lunch and dinner.  The new King Street cafe, staffed by the existing Afternoon Tease team, is the place for fast healthy eating and it’s been buzzing since it opened its doors in November.

Stem and Glory counter
Image credit: Stem + Glory

If you’re eating in, you can pile your plate from a selection of hot dishes and salads for £9.  If you’re on the go, you can do the same but put it in a box (small, medium or large) to take away.  Wraps are always available along with cakes, coffee, tea, soft drinks and shakes.  There’s a small breakfast menu at the moment but that will be expanding soon and a brunch menu is on the way.

Stem and Glory cauli and rocket salad
Image credit: Stem + Glory

My daughter and I grabbed a table on a busy Saturday and we were eating the colourful food with our eyes before it got anywhere near our mouths!  Pumpkin tagine was aromatic while the earthy warmth of a beetroot and horseradish pie with mushroom was perfectly complemented by a fluffy mashed potato topping.  Spicy bulghur wheat salad came speckled with herbs and mixed seeds, carrot and fennel salad was fresh and crunchy while the cauliflower and rocket salad was drizzled with a silky tahini dressing.  There’ll be a different style of menu each week so there’s always something new and delicious on offer.

Louise’s success with Camyoga and Stem + Glory has been recognised with two awards this year – the Cambridge Business Excellence Awards Small Business of the Year and Best Newcomer at the Cambridge Food and Drink Awards.  And I can’t wait to see what Louise does next ….. she has big plans for Stem + Glory in 2018 so watch this space!

http://www.stemandglory.uk

13 King Street, Cambridge CB1 1LH

“Pots for Poverty” at The Locker Cafe

One of the best things about writing this blog is the people I meet.  They’re always interesting and everybody has a story to tell but lately, and maybe it’s just co-incidence, I’ve met several career scientists who also have a strong artistic bent.  There’s the orthopaedic surgeon who is a talented musician and a major mover on the city’s jazz scene.  Then there’s the seismologist turned photographer whose photographs of college libraries created a buzz when she exhibited recently at Michaelhouse.  And now I’ve met John Hodges, a consultant neurologist who makes the most beautiful ceramics.

raku pot
Image credit:  John Hodges

John worked for many years at Addenbrookes where he set up the first Memory Clinic and a dementia research group.  Following a sabbatical year in Sydney, John and his family moved to Australia where he established a research centre into frontotemporal dementia at the University of New South Wales.  This centre continues to thrive and John still has a part-time involvement but he is now based back in Cambridge where he is co-owner with his son, Adam, of The Locker Cafe on King Street, which I featured in a post in September and whose Chocolate Guinness cake is my current obsession!

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John has been creating ceramics for fifteen years.  Following courses in Cambridge and Suffolk and with the encouragement of potter friends here and in Australia, he built a studio in his garden, complete with a wheel and kiln.  John makes stoneware and raku pieces and last year raised over £2,000 for Jimmy’s Cambridge in a charity event that he held at home.

bowls stoneware
Image credit:  John Hodges

Now that The Locker Cafe is up and running, John is holding another charity event, “Pots for Poverty” at the cafe from Thursday 7 – Sunday 10 December.  As well as his ceramics, you’ll find stoneware pottery from Chesterton-based Susan Cupitt, art from Carol Gregory and her printmaking group, calendars by Sally Greaves featuring her vibrant and colourful photographs of Guatemala, Christmas cards, handmade candles in raku bowls and ceramic tree decorations.

raku candles
Image credit:  John Hodges

Proceeds will go to two local charities.  Jimmy’s Cambridge has been providing emergency accommodation for the city’s homeless for over 20 years.  CamCRAG, the Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group, works to help refugees in Northern France and elsewhere, raising awareness of their plight and sending regular convoys with clothing and other aid.

So do pop in to The Locker Cafe, check out these beautiful and unique pieces and maybe tick a few presents off your Christmas list or, better still, buy a Christmas present for yourself!

http://www.thelockercafe.co.uk

54 King Street, Cambridge CB1 1LN

 

Mill Road Winter Fair

Mill Road Winter Fair is a colourful and joyous celebration of community.  From small beginnings in 2005, it’s become a vibrant fixture in the city’s calendar.  Happening this year on Saturday 2 December, it draws local residents as well as visitors from across the country, who come together to celebrate the unique atmosphere and richness of life in this neighbourhood.  I met with Marisa Crimlis-Brown, local resident and Winter Fair Committee member, to find out more.

Mill Road Brochure Cover 2
Image credit: Sam Motherwell

“This Fair is all about different parts of the community coming together and there’s something here for everybody,” Marisa tells me.  Cambridge Community Circus  will be running circus skills workshops, so if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at diablo or juggling, now’s your chance.  Anglia Ruskin University, who are celebrating 40 years of university status, will be showing a display of local art in its Drama Studio on Covent Garden and will host various activities and venues, including a marquee on Petersfield with craft stalls and live music.  You’ll find more local craftspeople in a large marquee outside Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre.  The Mosque on Mawson Road will open its doors and Cambridge University Museums will be running children’s activities and story telling sessions.

 

Brass Band Medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

There’s going to be plenty of music along the street too.  Cambridge 105 will be broadcasting throughout the day with a live stage featuring local artists.  There’ll be buskers, the Cambridge University Brass Band, a barbershop chorus and gospel choirs as well as performances from local contemporary choirs.  And you won’t be able to resist dancing in the street alongside performers including the Cambridge Swing Dancers and Arco Iris, our city’s very own community samba band.

 

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Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

“Come hungry!” is Marisa’s advice.  As well as a wide variety of international cuisines offered by Mill Road’s cafes and restaurants, Gwydir Street car park will be a hub for street food and Thirsty will be running a bar with seating at St Barnabas Church, where you’ll also find food trucks and a reggae stage.

Band medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

There’s so much going on at the Fair, much more than I can cover here so for the full programme, do check out their excellent website and also their Facebook page for news and regular updates.  Details are at the end of this post.

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Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

The Winter Fair is organised and run by a small group of residents who always welcome people to the team to help with planning this event.  And volunteers make the Fair happen on the day.  For this year, they still need road stewards to help keep everyone safe so if you are aged over 18 and would be happy to help, email volunteers@millroadwinterfair.org

Crown medium
Image credit: Inez Martina Mihaldinecz

On 2 December, Mill Road will be closed to cars and bikes from East Road to Coleridge Road.  The Fair opens at 10.30am and the organisers estimate that around 15,000 visitors will come to experience the sights, sounds and colours of the day.  And there’s no need to leave once the Fair closes at 4.30pm ….. why not stay a little longer and enjoy the shops, cafes and restaurants of this vibrant neighbourhood?

http://www.millroadwinterfair.org

Facebook: Mill Road Winter Fair

Mill Road, Cambridge CB1

Cambridge Made Christmas Fair

So Christmas is coming ….. I’m making a list and checking it twice before I head off to the Cambridge Made Christmas Fair, which for the past couple of years has been my go to at this time of year for local handmade treasures and really original Christmas presents.

Cambridge Made Christmas Fair_Etsy Made Local 2017 Flyer
Image credit: Purplespoon Design/OomPahPah

The Christmas Fair showcases the multifarious talents of a collective of Cambridge designer-makers who have come together as a team under the Etsy banner.  Etsy is the world’s leading online marketplace for handmade goods, through which individual makers can run an online store to sell their wares.  But it’s much more than a sales forum.  It’s a community minded operation that encourages sellers to form teams, meaning that craftspeople can pool their experience and expertise and support each other in what can sometimes be a solitary existence.

Cambridge Made Green collage
Image credit: Cambridge Made Christmas Fair

I met with Debbie Poyser and Sara Bevan from the Cambridge Etsy team, who firmly believe that people should be able to make things for a living and, indeed, that it’s an essential human impulse to make.  They told me that four years ago, their first Fair was a pop up shop in a room above a pub in central Cambridge.  The Cambridge BID team then got involved, helped the group to set up a Summer Fair and from there the project went from strength to strength.

This year, the Fair is being held at St Andrew’s Baptist Church and will show the work of forty three designer-makers, artists and craftspeople over three days.  There’ll be a huge variety of hand made goodies including ceramics, jewellery, textiles, quilts, botanical toiletries, cards, decorations, toys and homewares.  Some new makers will be coming on board each day so it’s definitely worth visiting the Fair more than once.  Should you work up a thirst doing all that Christmas shopping and need to recharge, refreshments will be available at Livingstones Cafe in the church.  You’ll also be able to help raise funds for Jimmy’s Night Shelter by stopping at the charity table.

Cambridge Made Red collage
Image credit: Cambridge Made Christmas Fair

Cambridge Made welcomes applications from makers who would like to share opportunities and be a part of this supportive group.  Just contact them through Facebook at Cambridge Made.

As shopping experiences go, sorting out the Christmas presents often feels like something of a mission but I can promise you that this Fair is different.  So make out your list, come along to support local designer-makers and see what treasures you will find.

Facebook:  Etsy Made Local – Cambridge

43 St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge CB2 3AR

Radmore Farm Shop

The story of Radmore Farm Shop is really the story of a family.  Vicky Rogers grew up on Radmore Farm in Northamptonshire alongside her sister, parents and extended family.  While Vicky’s father reared pigs on a large scale to supply supermarkets, Vicky and her sister decided to get a little diversification project going.  They set up a small farm shop in a wooden shed, selling eggs, potatoes and vegetables that they’d grown themselves and this experiment turned out to be a big success.

Fast forward a few years ….. Vicky, by now in her final year of studies at Anglia Ruskin University, met Ben Aveling, who was working on a management training scheme in a Cambridge pub.  Ben had never worked on a farm before but it wasn’t long before he and Vicky were spending their weekends at Radmore and taking with them shopping lists from people who wanted farm fresh produce brought back to Cambridge.  Seeing the demand, this enterprising couple decided to set up a retail operation and so, in 2006, Radmore Farm Shop came to Cambridge, settling initially in Victoria Road, then moving to Mitchams Corner.  Earlier this year, it put down roots in splendid new premises in Victoria Avenue.

Radmore shopfront
Image credit: Radmore Farm Shop

Staffed by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team, it’s a light and airy space where a big range of stock is beautifully displayed.  Vicky and Ben’s aim is to make fresh farm produce available in a place where you can come and also do a whole shop so they offer a wide range of groceries.  In her bakery on the farm, Vicky makes meat pies, quiches and cakes and can also bake to order.  Ben is in charge of butchery.  There’s a superb range of meat and poultry on offer including home reared free range chicken, pork (from the pigs still raised by Vicky’s father but on a small scale these days), pedigree free range Dexter beef and lamb.  They also process game so you will find venison, pheasant and pigeon in season.

Vicky and son
Image credit: Radmore Farm Shop

Vicky and Ben are always increasing the range available at the shop and are passionate about championing the work and produce of local independent small suppliers.  They have just relaunched Radmore’s online store which you can access through their website.  Just browse through the products, pick a delivery day and your shopping will come to your door.

As for Christmas, Radmore has it covered.  Top quality Nordmann non-drop fir trees will be available from the end of November and Ben will deliver your tree for free in Cambridge.  Christmas meats include the top-notch Kelly Bronze free range turkeys, geese, ducks and free range cockerels from the farm (Vicky and Ben’s Christmas dinner of choice!).  Keep an eye on the website for details of special Christmas events and tastings which are happening in the coming weeks.

Vicky and family
Image credit: Radmore Farm Shop

 

So to finish, back to the family who all still live at Radmore Farm.  Vicky and Ben now have two beautiful little boys so the next generation is being raised there.  You can keep up to date with them all by checking out Vicky’s blog about family, farming and food on http://www.myfamilyandotherhungryanimals.com

http://www.radmorefarmshop.co.uk

8 – 10 Victoria Avenue, Cambridge CB4 1EH